It was another hostile environment, another physical and controversial contest and another loss for the Tigers Tuesday night. Auburn had a solid lead twice, but each slipped away as they surrendered their third straight game on the road, falling in College Station to Texas A&M 83-78.
“If you score 78, on the road, in here against a really good defensive team, it’s enough to win,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. “Our second-half defense let us down, we fouled them too much.”
Unlike the loss to Tennessee, the controversy in Aggieland came shortly after the opening tip and continued throughout the contest. Auburn fell behind in its free throw differential, and it did not get any better. In a 5-point loss, Auburn took just 14 free throw attempts on 17 A&M fouls, while the Aggies attempted 39 foul shots on 27 Tiger fouls. Auburn ended up going 9-of-14 from the line in the loss, while Texas A&M went 31-of-39 at the line.
“We could not stop them in the second half, we fouled them too much and that was the difference,” Pearl said following the game.
Texas A&M had 12 attempts in the first half to Auburn’s one, along with 27 attempts in the second half. Auburn took 40 shots inside the arc, while Texas A&M took 36.
The foul trouble not only sent A&M to the line often but also put Auburn’s bigs in foul trouble. Johni Broome was called for his fourth foul with around eight minutes remaining in the game and eventually fouled out, with Dylan Cardwell finishing the game with four fouls of his own.
“Johni Broome got in some foul trouble, and it affected our post defense,” Pearl said of Broome.
Broome finished the game with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, along with keeping Auburn balanced on the glass with 34 total rebounds to the Aggies’ 38. However, when he was playing with four fouls, junior forward Julius Marbles took advantage for A&M, putting in the best game of his A&M career. Marbles had 20 points and seven boards, including a few key baskets down the stretch. His 13 second-half points led the team.
The last four meaningful possessions for Auburn were rough: a Wendell Green Jr. turnover in isolation, an airball from Green, a missed layup from Green, which led to Johni Broome fouling out, and an airball from Lior Berman.
That airball from Green came out of a timeout, with a play set up for Jaylin Williams that turned into a 3-point attempt from Green. Williams had nine second-half points and was 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.
“We had Wendell come out for a couple screens, he wasn’t clear, and then he made a play,” Pearl said. “I thought Jaylin Williams had a good look, he just didn’t shoot it.”
Auburn was hitting an efficient 57% of its shots from the floor in the second half, including 40% on 10 3-point attempts, but Green did not make one shot from beyond the arc in the second half and finished the game 1-of-5 from downtown.
He did lead the team with 20 points, including 15 in the second half.
With the Tuesday night game, Auburn will have a bit of rest before College Gameday returns to the Plains for the third year in a row. The Tigers will look to rebound and take down No. 3 Alabama for the third straight time. Tip-off for the Iron Bowl of basketball is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on ESPN.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.